Thursday, January 29, 2015

Grammar Basics: What Is Sentence Inversion?

Besides the question mark, how can you tell a question from a statement? One way is to look for sentence inversion. In statements, the subject usually comes before the verb. Questions invert the subject and the verb. In other words, the verb comes first, as in this example: Are you going to need a ride home from school? Sentence inversion isn’t a foolproof method for identifying a question, however.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Quotation Marks: Rules How to Use Them Correctly

  • We use quotation marks with direct quotes, with titles of certain works, to imply alternate meanings, and to write words as words.
  • Block quotations are not set off with quotation marks.
  • The quoted text is capitalized if you’re quoting a complete sentence and not capitalized if you’re quoting a fragment.
  • Commas and periods always go inside the quotation marks in American English; dashes, colons, and semicolons almost always go outside the quotation marks; question marks and exclamation marks sometimes go inside, sometimes stay outside.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

First, Firstly, At First…Which Is It?

First and firstly are both ordinal (or ordering) adverbs that English speakers and writers use to enumerate related points (e.g., first…second…third… or firstly…secondly…thirdly…). Because first, second, and third work perfectly well as both adjectives and adverbs, some people find that adding -ly is superfluous and even a little bit pretentious. In other words, it is grammatical overkill.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Save Time & Work Smarter with these 5 Email Apps

Do you have any idea how many hours a week you spend reading and writing emails? Well, according to a recent study by McKinsey & Company, it could easily be 11 hours for the average worker—and that doesn’t even count personal time! Just let that sink in for a moment…

Well, now you can take matters into your own hands (and possibly retain some sanity) with these time-saving and feature-packed third-party apps.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Are You a Grammar Troll? Quiz

Whether you’re the friend that everyone calls when they have a grammar question or you’re just a big English language geek, you love reading about and talking about language online. When writing mistakes happen online, however, language and grammar can get pretty divisive—quickly. We all have a tendency to chime in, but not all of us are as productive as others. Find out how much of a grammar troll you are in our short, fun quiz.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

English Grammar Rule Basics

A house needs a good foundation. Likewise, to speak a language, you need a firm understanding of grammar. Here are some basic rules you will need to know if you want to speak and write English well.


Nouns denote animate and inanimate things, ideas, places, or people. They compose about half of the English language. There are many types of nouns, and each type has its own usage rules.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Waking the Muse: How to Find Inspiration

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” – Jack London

Many writers are of the mistaken opinion that great work only comes when they are inspired, but that’s backwards. A writer doesn’t wait for inspiration to find them; a writer creates inspiration by starting to write, even when they don’t feel like it. The simple act of writing will kickstart your brain and let your Muse know that it’s time to get started.

Friday, January 16, 2015

What Is a Prepositional Phrase?

A prepositional phrase is a group of words consisting of a preposition, its object, and any words that modify the object. Most of the time, a prepositional phrase modifies a verb or a noun. These two kinds of prepositional phrases are called adverbial phrases and adjectival phrases, respectively.

At a minimum, a prepositional phrase consists of one preposition and the object it governs.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

5 Books Every Aspiring Writer Should Read

When it comes to giving aspiring writers advice, famous authors have suggested everything from imagining you’re dying (Anne Enright) to abstaining from alcohol, sex, and drugs (Colm Tóibín). The one pointer that nearly every personality seems to agree on, though, is that anyone dreaming of penning the next great novel should read, read, read.

And while the rule seems to be the more books the merrier, here are a few top recommendations for those counting on being the next F.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Breath vs. Breathe

  • Breathe is a verb we use for the process of inhaling and exhaling.
  • Breath is a noun that refers to a full cycle of breathing. It can also refer to the air that is inhaled or exhaled.
  • Both words can be used in several different ways and are part of many phrases and idioms.

You know when it gets really cold outside, and you exhale and see the steam coming out of your mouth? Is it your breath that you’re seeing or is it your breathe?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Among vs. Amongst: What’s the Difference?

Amongst and among mean the same thing, but among is most common, particularly in American English. Both words are prepositions that mean “into, surrounded by; in the midst of, so as to influence; with a share for each of; in the number, class, or group of; mutually; or by all or with the whole of.”

Linda Richman, a Saturday Night Live character, would often give her audience an interesting topic to ponder, such as “The peanut is neither a pea nor a nut,” delivering the line in an exaggerated New York accent.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

5 Email Habits to Keep Your Inbox (and Coworkers) Happy

It’s that rare, beautiful Monday when you make it to the office early. Your commute wasn’t as vexing as usual, your coffee’s still hot, and no one is around yet. Your heart races at this delicious opportunity to get some actual work done without the usual distractions.

You peel open your laptop only to discover twenty-seven unread emails. Your shoulders slump in despair. How many of these even matter?